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Thursday, November 15 Business

British firm’s arrival marks ongoing Stamford media growth

The region’s reputation as a hub for media companies has broadcast across the Atlantic.

Transcription, translation and captioning company Take 1 has expanded from its southeast England headquarters, taking space last month within the offices of reality-show producer ITV America, at 850 Canal St., in Stamford’s South End. Take 1’s arrival underscores the emergence of film, television and digital media as one of southwestern Connecticut’s most promising sectors and the importance of state subsidies in recruiting such firms.

“Stamford is strategically located, and it’s close to New York,” Louise Tapia, CEO and managing director of Take 1, said in an interview last week at 850 Canal. “A lot of interesting media companies are based here. It ticks all the boxes.”

The company plans to use a state program that would allow eligible companies with which it partners to claim tax credits of up to 30 percent on certain Connecticut-based expenses.

“A big reason why we’re here is to engage with those clients and make them aware of Take 1 and how they can benefit from the tax break and our service,” Tapia said.

In the 2017 fiscal year, the state Department of Economic and Community Development allotted a total of about $86 million in tax credits to 26 production companies. The same number of firms spent a total of about $296 million in the state that year.

“We’re thrilled about the arrival of a company like Take 1,” said George Norfleet, director of the state film office, which is part of DECD. “It’s a testament to the fact that the tax incentives are doing exactly what they’re supposed to do, which is to help recruit companies from outside Connecticut, whether they are based in other parts the U.S., or based internationally.”

Take 1 has done business in the Americas for 10 years, with a client list including ITV America, NBCUniversal, National Geographic, TruTV and Discovery Networks. It also runs offices in Los Angeles and Santiago, Chile.

The firm touts its American-based contingent’s ability to provide overnight “turnaround” services that are supported by its international presence.

Its headquarters are in the town of Cranbrook, about 50 miles southeast of London.

In total, Take 1 employs about 50 full-time, as well as approximately 170 freelance transcribers and more than 200 freelance translators. The firm is hiring for the Stamford office.

Take 1’s move-in to 850 Canal follows the opening last year of ITV America’s offices in the same building.

ITV America describes itself as the largest independent non-scripted producer in the U.S. Its show portfolio includes “Hell’s Kitchen” and “The Four” on Fox; “Pawn Stars” and “Alone” on History; “Fixer Upper” on HGTV; “Real Housewives of New Jersey” on Bravo; and “Queer Eye” on Netflix.

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Ongoing growth

Connecticut’s film, TV and digital media industry has gained momentum in the past few years.

In late May, ITV America and startup Wheelhouse Entertainment announced they planned to create about 450 jobs in the city during the next few years.

ITV and Wheelhouse plan to open a production and post-production complex in a vacant 90,000-square-foot building at 860 Canal St., yards from 850 Canal. The structure at 860 Canal has been gutted ahead of its build-out for the new operations.

The state is supporting the project with a $6 million loan to ITV America and a $3 million loan to Wheelhouse Entertainment. Partial loan forgiveness would be possible if certain job targets were met.

“It’s a great sign when a company like ITV says it will consolidate a bunch of its operations in Connecticut,” Catherine Smith, the state’s economic development commissioner, said in an interview when the company’s deal was announced. “This is a good indicator that we have the right talent and location. We’ve always felt digital media had a place in the state.”

Today, Connecticut is home to more than 1,200 media-related businesses that employ more than 16,000 people, according to state data.

Among other media companies based in Stamford, NBC Sports Group and WWE are headquartered on the city’s East Side.

NBC Sports has its own incentives deal, supporting the 2013 opening of its 300,000-square-foot complex at 1 Blachley Road. Its agreement with the state allotted loans of approximately $26 million. The firm employs about 800 in Connecticut, according to the most recent state data.

A number of production centers operate elsewhere in the city, including hubs at the Shippan Landing complex in the city’s Shippan section, and on the West Side, near Stamford Hospital.

Elsewhere in the area, Blue Sky Studios — the animation firm behind hits such as “Ice Age,” “The Peanuts Movie” and “Rio” — is based in backcountry Greenwich. It has operated in the town since moving in 2009 from White Plains, N.Y., in 2009, spurred by its own multimillion-dollar package of state subsidies. About 500 work at the Greenwich headquarters.

“Companies are coming here and creating jobs,” Norfleet said. “The more companies that come, the more companies that will want to come.”

pschott@scni.com; 203-964-2236; Twitter: @paulschott

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